Removing Stainless Cam Locks

Written by jeffrey brian airman
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Removing Stainless Cam Locks
Most file cabinets have one or more cam locks. (Jupiterimages/ Images)

It's possible to remove stainless steel cam locks from cabinet and furniture drawers without causing damage. Cam locks are key-operated metal cylinder locks with a latch or cam on the end. The latch turns into the locking position as you twist the cylinder. A key change may require you to remove old cam locks to make way for replacements. Take out furniture cam locks carefully so you can reuse the lock and drawer when you are finished.

Skill level:
Moderately Easy

Things you need

  • Key
  • Phillips screwdriver or hex wrench set
  • Pliers (optional)

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  1. 1

    Unlock the stainless cam lock with the original key. Pull out the drawer blocking access to the rear of the cam lock and set it aside. Some tracks have locking plastic levers that you must fully compress to completely remove a drawer.

  2. 2

    Loosen the fastener holding the perpendicular latch onto the end of the cam lock with a Phillips screwdriver or hex wrench. Remove the fastener and latch from the end of the cam lock completely and set the two pieces aside together.

  3. 3

    Pull out the retainer clip if there is one between the cam lock and the backside of the furniture. Wiggle the cam lock side to side as you pull the clip with your fingers or a pair of pliers.

  4. 4

    Push the stainless steel cam lock out toward the key end. Twist the cam lock side to side gently if it does not slide out right away. Reattach the latch and fastener to the removed cam lock.

Tips and warnings

  • Lubricate a cam lock that will not turn with all-purpose household oil. Wipe away the excess and wait 30 minutes before trying the lock again.
  • Cam locks are usually drilled out through their centre when the keys are lost and the drawer is locked closed.

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